Celsius Network Review
Ease of Use
Platform & Account Security
Looking for a decentralized finance platform for your cryptocurrency needs? Celsius Network is a DeFi platform that provides a variety of services. This platform’s services include Celsius Earn, which allows you to collect interest on your crypto assets, as well as Celsius Borrow, which allows you to access loans that are collateralized using your crypto holdings, among other services. Is this the right DeFi platform for your needs? Read our review of Celsius Network to find out.
- Allows individuals to capitalize on their digital asset holdings
- Quick and easy loan processes, attractive interest rates, interest paid on a broad range of coins
- Only usable via mobile application
- Ethical operations of Celsius are questionable, and may not be sustainable
- Companies involved in re-hypothecating are unknown
- Un-collateralized loans have been reported
- Operates much like a bank would
The year 2020 has seen Decentralized Finance (otherwise known as DeFi) blast off for new horizons, promising the ability for people to become their own bank. While over 2 billion people in the world currently do not have access to a bank account, these decentralized finance platforms have created a way for individuals to store and lend their crypto (often for a return), whilst also usually being able to fully retain custodianship of their assets.
Celsius is one of many such projects in the cryptocurrency space that has been making waves in the industry, as they have seen adoption amongst users, as well as their token (CEL) having risen over 650% over the last year (as of September 2020). What services does Celsius offer, and how does Celsius operate these services? Is Celsius a legitimate company that crypto users can feel safe using? Keep reading our Celsius Network review to find out.
A Brief History Of Celsius
What began in 2017 as an idea, discussed between co-founders Alex Mashinsky and S. Daniel Leon, and drawn out on a napkin from a coffee shop has turned into what is known today as Celsius. The project started off as a way to aid those who are unbanked, those looking to lend their crypto in return for interest, and those who need access to cash but do not want to sell their assets. In March 2018, the CEL token was launched and distributed worldwide, with the Celsius application launching a few months later in June, 2018.
By December 2018, Celsius had managed to surpass the milestone of creating over $100 million in crypto loans, and managing over $50 million in crypto assets. By May 2019, the company saw over $1.2 billion in loans created, and managing over $200 million in crypto assets. In July 2020, the company raised over $18.8 million in an equity funding round, further proving that Celsius has some room to grow in the industry.
Services Offered By Celsius Network
Celsius Network offers a few different services for clients to take advantage of their crypto holdings, each with the aim of building the user’s portfolio.
The first service offered by Celsius is their Earn service, which allows users to receive and collect interest on cryptocurrency assets that are deposited (by the user) into Celsius Network’s vaults. Users are able to deposit and earn interest (up to 22.4% annually) with over 30 different cryptocurrency assets (including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and USDT), with no minimum deposit required.
Users will be able to receive their interest payments in the originally staked asset, or in CEL, Celsius Network’s utility token, which typically carries a higher interest rate. Accounts will be snapshotted every Friday, with determined interest payments to be distributed on each following Monday.
The ability to earn interest on your crypto is really one of the stars of the service and the reason many people initially become interested in Celsius. Just look at the interest rate table below (keeping in mind that rates fluctuate over time):
Celsius pays up to 24% interest on cryptocurrency holdings. Most notably, you can collect 4.51% interest on your Bitcoin (6.2% if you collect in CEL) and 11.55% on USDC (15.89% if you collect in CEL). This is an attractive offer for two groups of people.
First of, if you plan to buy and hold your crypto (HODL crowd) for years to come, you can let it sit at Celsius and collect interest. The interest is basically free money that you get on top of your crypto returns.
Celsius also offers a strong value proposition for people who may not even be interest in cryptocurrencies. Since you can earn an interest on stablecoin balances, such as USDC, Celsius is an incredibly attractive option for people who would have otherwise kept cash in a bank account. Most banks pay less than a fraction of a percent of interest on balances in savings and checking accounts. Celsius will pay upwards of 10%, meaning you can make an extra $100+/year for every $1,000 that sits in your account.
Of course, comparing Celsius to a bank is not an apples-to-apples comparison, and there are some inherent risks to keeping your funds at Celsius. We will discuss these trade-offs later in the review, but for now, let’s look at the company’s other offerings (you can skip these sections if you just want to find out if Celsius is trustworthy).
Another of Celsius Network’s offerings is their Borrow service, which allows users access to loans, which are collateralized by the user’s crypto holdings. With this service, users can apply for a loan within minutes, granting users the access to cash or a stable coin equivalent. With this platform, Celsius aims to enable the crypto users to be able to bypass the long and laborious process of having to apply for a loan at a bank or any other traditional financial institution, without the need for a credit check.
By using the Borrow service, users will have access to cash (albeit having to pay a small interest rate for having an open loan) without having to sell their crypto assets, which typically triggers a taxable event, and also diminishes a portfolio of assets that may have been procured at an ideal and opportune price.
The CEL Token allows users greater economic freedom. By holding and using the token, users will be able to receive a larger interest return (payed out in CEL), as well as loans with lower interest rates for both individuals and institutions. The total token supply for CEL is 695,658,161 tokens. Celsius also has a “Loyalty Tier” divided between Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, determined by the amount of CEL tokens the user holds. Each tier receives different bonus rewards and loan interest discounts depending on the level of the tier.
CELPay is another service offered by Celsius. This service essentially allows users to be able to send and receive crypto payments to/from other users. CELPay could be thought similar to Venmo or PayPal, except that CELPay is strictly a cryptocurrency payment processor.
Finally, it should be noted that the services offered by Celsius Network are accessible only by mobile application, which is available from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
How Does Celsius Work?
When looking at the services that are offered by Celsius, one may wonder just how Celsius is able to provide such a return on user’s deposits. To many, the proposition may seem too good to be true.
The answer is that Celsius actually loans out the user’s deposits to institutional establishments, such as hedge funds and exchanges. These loans, like any loans, incur interest, and Celsius claims to return 80% of the generated revenue back to the users in return for their deposits.
Getting Started With Celsius Network
As mentioned previously, the services offered by Celsius are only available through their mobile application. To get started, simply download the Celsius Network application via the link on their webpage.
From there, the new user will be prompted with instructions as to how to create an account and get started with any of the services offered.
Customer Support And Resources
For the customer that needs assistance with their account, or who may have questions regarding certain features, Celsius has a fairly in-depth FAQ/Help Center covering the many features and facets of Celsius Network.
Celsius also has a section dedicated to Videos released by Celsius. Videos are categorized and feature both co-founders of the Celsius Network. In this section, users can watch live Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, study up on the Celsius’s lending platform, and more.
Also included on the website is a section for Podcast episodes on which Celsius has been featured. This section can be a great trove for those that prefer to listen to podcasts and are curious about this project.
In an effort to keep their clientele up-to-date with the offerings at Celsius, the website has made sure to dedicate a page of their website to News relating to the company. These news articles could be thought of as “official” press releases given by the company.
Is Celsius Network Trustworthy?
Now, it’s time to get to the million dollar question (and likely the main reason you came to our Celsius review). Can you trust Celsius Network with your funds?
We’re going to approach this question from a few angles. We’ll look at the good and the bad before giving our final verdict.
While Celsius Network is a relatively new business, the company has achieved a lot in a short period of time. These aren’t some “new guys on the block” running a massive public experiment with your money.
To date, the company has raised over $93.8 million in investor funding, and it’s clear that their team is dedicated to disrupting the industry.
On the client-side, Celsius Network has over 169,000 active users who have trusted the company with $1.1 billion in crypto deposits. To date, the company has processed over $8.2 billion in loans.
This is no chump change. To put that in context, Acorns, a rapidly growing stock investment app with over 4.5 million users, has roughly $1.2 billion in assets under management.
Of course, having a large client-base doesn’t mean that a company is trustworthy (as we learned with BitConnect).
That said, it does seem like the company is trying to be as transparent as possible. You can find regular updates on the company’s website and you can hear from the CEO regularly. Alex Mashinsky, the company CEO, does weekly “Ask me Anything” videos, and has been featured on conference panels and TV shows.
There’s no doubt that Celsius is trying to do everything possible to give customers peace of mind.
In fairness to Celsius, we want to highlight all of the positive aspects of the company. In fairness to readers, we want to make sure we provide any information that may impact your decision to trust Celsius with your hard-earned money.
There are a few things about Celsius that are a little less-than-savory when it comes to the big picture.
While “Decentralized Finance” is certainly a giant buzzword in the cryptocurrency industry today, the truth is that Celsius Network is about the furthest thing from being “decentralized”. In fact, they operate almost exactly as a bank would, generating wealth through loaning out their client’s deposits. This process of monetary creation (in addition to the Federal Reserve’s protocols) have been speculated to be highly unsustainable (for further reading, check out G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island).
In other words: the company uses their customer’s funds to create wealth for themselves by loaning it out to other people and institutions.
Because of its centralization, Celsius is at high-risk for a serious attack. To counter this possibility, Celsius has little in the way of protecting users, as their policy is to use their balance sheet to cover any losses as well as other Eligible Digital Assets to cover the rest of any loss, rather than having an insurance policy (though larger amounts are deposited into BitGo’s vaults).
Another major thing to consider is that the companies that take part in re-hypothecation are generally unknown to anyone that takes part in any of the services offered by Celsius. Because of this, the trust one can place in Celsius is fairly minimal considering that the very companies that help Celsius make a profit are unknown.
Users should also beware that, in July 2020, Celsius was reported to have been making un-collateralized loans, despite founder Alex Mashinsky’s claims.
Celsius Network: Final Verdict
If you are reading this review looking for a definitive answer to the question of whether or not you can trust Celsius, you may be slightly disappointed. The truth is, it’s impossible to say with 100% certainty that your funds would be safe (or unsafe) with Celsius.
The company has been very transparent and it is clear that they are doing everything possible to earn customer’s trust and grow their business the right way. The company has a large client-base, a strong team, transparent marketing methods, and proper funding.
That said, this industry is still in its early stages and no one can say with certainty where it will go. It is likely that this industry will experience growing pains and face challenges that can’t even be predicted right now.
Unlike bank accounts or stock brokerages, funds deposited into Celsius are not fully insured, meaning there is definitely risk involved in using their service. If I found a bank account that was paying 10% interest on cash balances (with FDIC insurance), I would move all of my funds there in a heartbeat. While the interest rates offered at Celsius are enticing, I can’t treat the service like I would a bank account (as much as I’d like to) since there are additional risks.
That said, I do feel comfortable leaving a small percentage of my holdings at Celsius (and or BlockFi – I go up and back). The ability to collect 10% interest on crypto and stablecoins like USDC is too enticing to ignore.
I look forward to seeing the growth of this industry as there is so much potential.